Schools in Pakistan’s Sindh province do not currently offer the 21st century skills that are now seen as essential for today’s young people. This puts Sindh’s pupils at a disadvantage compared to pupils in some other parts of the country, and internationally, who take learning these skills for granted.
While education in Sindh receives a large proportion of government funding, there is still a lack of effective governance across the sector. Particular problems are the absence of school education standards, an unfavourable learning environment, and a curriculum that can be described as ‘outdated’. This has inevitably led to high dropout rates across the province.
A new bill recently passed by the Provincial Assembly of Sindh, however, signals that change is now on the agenda. The School Education Standards and Curriculum Bill will set in motion the development of school education standards and a more relevant curriculum for Sindh’s schools and will help to enable a suitable learning environment for 21st century skills to take root and flourish.
The passing of the bill is down in large part to the work of the Sindh Education Sector Support Programme. Managed by the British Council and funded by the European Union, the programme supports the Government of Sindh with improving the quality of education for learners.
Working directly with Sindh’s Education and Literacy Department, the programme has played a major role in shaping the bill and in identifying its key areas of focus. In particular, the bill will enable the formulation of a Sindh Curriculum Council, which will be responsible for designing the guiding principles, policies and priorities for the development, implementation and evaluation of the new curriculum.
As well as benefiting learners, the new bill will also focus on improving the skills and development of school teachers by strengthening support for pre-service teacher education and continuous professional development for in-service teachers.
The new bill is a significant step on the way to improving education in the Sindh province. The hope is that learners in Sindh will soon have more access to the 21st century skills they need to live and work in a global society.
Through the Sindh Education Sector Support Programme, the British Council has also supported the development of the Sindh Curriculum Implementation Framework, which will help establish an integrated process of curriculum implementation. A revised Policy on Textbook and Learning Materials has also been developed to improve the quality and relevance of textbooks and supplementary reading materials.
The Sindh Education Sector Support Programme builds on the achievements of the British-Council-managed Technical Assistance to the Sindh Education Reform Programme between 2007 and 2012. The programme will continue to support the ongoing development of the education sector until 2016.